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The Middle Ages

Chapter Four, The Essential Theatre
by

Melissa Vaughan-Kleppel

on 29 August 2015

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Transcript of The Middle Ages

The Middle Ages
Historians refer to the Middle Ages as the time between the fall of the Roman Empire (476 AD) to the coming of the Renaissance (around 1350 AD).


The medieval theatre was born in the liturgy of the Christian Church of the ninth century.
During this time, liturgical elaborations occurred, called
tropes
(from Latin, tropus, "added melody")
The first of these tropes was
Quem Queritis
("Whom do you Seek") This call/response, which was chanted or sung began in the Easter Mass as it told the story of the three Marys.
This was not yet a drama as there was no impersonation attempted, but there was dialogue.
Liturgical Drama
This is a form of drama that originates from the Mass, itself. It is often changed and was a form of worship used to fully illustrate stories from the bible and of the saints.
The Plays of the
Middle Ages
Mystery Plays
Passion Plays
Corpus Christi Plays
Cycle Plays
Morality Plays

Mystery Plays were very similar to Liturgical drama, but were longer and were presented in plain vernacular. These plays, too, told the stories of the bible and of the saints.
By the 12th or 13th century, drama was no longer allowed in church, and clergy were no longer allowed to participate
Passion Plays was a mystery play that specifically dealt with the trial, abuse, and crucifixion of Jesus.
Usually performed at Easter
Corpus Christi plays were mystery plays that were performed at a specific time of the year (between late May and late June) to celebrate the church festival of Corpus Christ.
Cycle Plays
Outdoor religious dramas
Processional staging
People of all ranks an professions involved
In England, the participation of Guilds
Plays dramatizing the Bible from creation to doomsday
The Wakefield Cycle
Manuscript contains a cycle of 32 plays: Creation to Last Judgement
Playwrights: Anonymous, multiple
Processional staging using pageant wagons
All actors were male
Guilds were assigned plays related loosely to their professions
Performances at 5:00am and lasted all day, sometimes for multiple days
All work was suspended
Vernacular Drama
Religious drama independent of church
Written in vernacular language
Spoken text
Not financed by the church
Morality Plays
Portrayed an archetypal human, usually named Mankind or Everyman
Other characters represented good/evil ideas or concepts, such as Good Deeds, Truth, Fellowship, Envy, Wrath, or Pride
They were presented for moral teaching
Served as a trancistion between medieval religious drama and secular drama of Shakespeare's time.
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